Weedsport, NY — December 2, 2008 – By Tom Skibinski, Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series PR Director
Ten years ago Billy Decker claimed his first overall Advance Auto Parts Series Mr. DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Championship and the ‘Aluminum Anniversary’ celebration in 2008 was even more decisive for the Unadilla, New York pilot as he used a record-tying 10 tour victories to secure DIRTcar Northeast’s top honor. The ‘Franklin Flyer’ earned his second Mr. DIRTcar title steering the LJL Motorsports no. 91 Gypsum Wholesalers-Stadium Int’l-Quality Hardwoods/Bicknell entry to a Series-best 24 Top-10 finishes in 26 events, 18 of which were Top-Five tallies. Decker led more than twice as many feature laps as any driver while setting a tour-high five Integra Shocks Fast Times.
Jimmy Phelps continued his consistent climb up the points chart for a fourth straight year in the H&H Motorsports no. 98H Mohawk N.E.-New England Race Fuels-Joe Gibbs Racing Oil/Troyer machine, in ’08 settling for a career-high runner-up performance with the help of 23 Top-10 tallies. The Baldwinsville, New York chauffeur had one fast time set at Can-Am Motorsports Park and scored his lone Advance Series win at Merrittville Speedway.
Third-year tour follower Dale Planck from Cortland, New York was strong from the outset, collecting two of the opening four checkered flags before adding a third on Canadian soil and holding on for third-place in the final Advance Series standings. The ‘Natural’ locked up three Integra Shocks Fast Times aboard the RezX Racing no. 77X Grow It Hydroseeding-Action Race Parts/TEO mount, ending the season second-best in both laps led (287) and heat race wins (9).
Gary Tomkins landed his fourth Top-Five finish in the overall Mr. DIRTcar points chase during the past five years with Doug Dulen’s Honeoye Auto Parts no. 84 Red Parker & Son Excavating/Bicknell ride carrying him to victory lane on two occasions. The 2004 Advance Series Champion from Clifton Springs, New York led three races for 130 laps, with back-to-back triumphs registered in August on both sides of the border at Can-Am and Cornwall (Ont.) Motor Speedway.
All-time Advance Series winner Brett Hearn became the first driver to reach the century mark on tour yet his 100th career tour victory notched at Orange County Fair Speedway on July 31 was the last of the season for the Sussex, New Jersey speedster. Wheeling the potent Madsen Motorsports no. 20 Wentworth Custom Homes-Kruger-WLR/TEO car, the ‘Jet’ claimed the most heat race wins (14) and was twice fastest in Integra Shock Time Trials before fading to fifth on the final Mr. DIRTcar points chart.
Matt Sheppard kicked off the ’08 campaign with a dramatic opening round triumph at Virginia Motor Speedway, then added eight more Top-Five finishes to file into sixth-place in the final standings. ‘Super Matt’ led two more main events in the JB Motor Sports no. 9S BPG/Chad Sinon Motorsports/Bicknell entry, with seven preliminary race wins to his credit.
In just his third season of Advance Series competition, 2001 rookie of the year Frankie Caprara logged 14 Top-10 finishes including a career-best second-place at Cayuga County Fair Speedway to wind up seventh in overall points. The Watertown, New York driver led in two feature events behind the wheel of the Thompson Motorsports no. FX1 Caprara Car Company-Auto Value-JK Contracting/Troyer ride to conclude his first full year on tour.
The first Mr. DIRTcar Big-Block champion crowned in the new millennium, Steve Paine from Waterloo, New York tallied nine front-five feature finishes, leading three main events along the way. The ‘Hurricane’ also posted three heat race wins in the Paine Motorsports no. 7X Tallmadge Tire-Swarthout Recycling-Instant Heat Wood Pellets/Troyer ride while extending his DIRTcar Northeast record to 10 straight point titles at Canandaigua (NY) Speedway.
Ryan Phelps scored his first Top-Five finish in the fourth feature from the end at Canandaigua to help the ‘Rocket’ salvage ninth-place in points for the Big Red Towing no. 99 Dave Miller Auto Body/Bicknell team. The rising star from Fulton, New York led 10 laps in the Twin 50s at Canandaigua and added a heat win at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in his first full year chasing Advance Series accolades.
Fifth-year tour follower Justin Haers rounds out the Top-10 in points on the strength of 14 Top-10s, posting fifth-place bests closest to his Phelps, New York home at Canandaigua and Cayuga County. Strapped into the Haers Bros. Racing no. 3 Phelps Cement Products-SMV Motorsports-Jeff Jolly Masonry/Bicknell machine, T-Bone’ led five features for 73 laps and scored his lone heat race win at Fulton Speedway.
Coming on strong at the end of the season aboard the SpraKing Racing no. 1J Jake Spraker Used Cars & Trucks/Bicknell mount, five-time overall Mr. DIRTcar Champion Alan Johnson ended up 11th in points. ‘A.J. Slideways’ garnered consecutive autumn wins at Canandaigua and Rolling Wheels to give him three and push the Advance Series total to 50 for DIRTcar Northeast’s career Big-Block win leader.
Billy Dunn parked the family-owned Number One Speed no. 49 American Traditions-Fast Lube of Watertown/Bicknell machine in the Top-10 three times and the Advance Series Holley Hard Luck Award winner ranked 12th in points after 26 events. Also accepting Area Auto Racing News Hard Luck and a special Sportsmanship award at the season-ending banquet, the Watertown, New York upstart led 39 laps at Autodrome Granby and posted four qualifying heat wins in both the U.S. and Canada.
Closing out the year in triumphant fashion with his only Big-Block win of the season in the Eastern States 200 finale at Orange County, Danny Johnson wound up 13th in the standings. Resigned to fielding a vintage Troyer mount much of the season, the Rochester, New York native dominated the Advance Series stop on the hard clay in Mike Petruska’s no. J66 Atlas Paving-Behrent’s Performance Warehouse/TEO entry, leading his first laps of the season when it counted most after opening the year with three Top-Three finishes in five races driving the JIR Motorsports no. 27J A&D Structures/Troyer car.
Phoenix, New York phenom Larry Wight began the season winless, yet before turning 16 in October he had scored his first Modified feature win and finished 14th in Advance Series points. In 2008 he became the first driver to win main events in Big-Block, 358-Modified and Sportsman divisions, as well as earn DIRTcar Northeast rookie of the year laurels in both Big-Block and Small-Block classes. In the LJL Racing no. 99L Gypsum Express,Ltd./Bicknell ride, Wight took his first tour checkered flag after a Hall of Fame Classic heat race win at Cayuga County in May.
A four-time Mr. DIRTcar 358-Modified champion, Canadian veteran Pat O’Brien made his initial full-season assault on the Advance Series and finished 15th with a pair of Top-10 tallies. O’Brien from Kingston, Ontario locked up his first-ever Integra Shocks Fast Time at Fulton, won a qualifying heat at Brewerton Speedway and led three feature laps on home soil at Brockville Ontario Speedway. His best finish in the 730 Truck Stop no. 6 Gypsum Logistics-Milestone Concrete/Bicknell entry was eighth-place at Fulton to round out the final 2008 point fund payout positions.
Volusia Speedway Park launches the 2009 season as the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals Presented by UNOH showcases four non-point events in the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series on February 11-14.
2008 Overall Hoosier Tire Mr. DIRTcar Modified/
Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series Point Standings (FINAL)
Rank No. Driver Points Series Track Diff. Wins Top-5 Top-10 Starts
1 91 Billy Decker 2,495 2,195 300 0 10 18 24 26
2 98H Jimmy Phelps 2,293 2,019 274 -202 1 14 23 26
3 77x Dale Planck 2,251 1,959 292 -244 3 16 21 26
4 84 Gary Tomkins 2,204 1,908 296 -291 2 11 21 26
5 20 Brett Hearn 2,164 1,876 288 -331 2 9 20 26
6 9S Matt Sheppard 2,143 1,859 284 -352 1 9 18 26
7 FX1 Frankie Caprara1,904 1,612 292 -591 0 2 14 26
8 7X Steve Paine 1,852 1,560 292 -643 0 9 11 25
9 99 Ryan Phelps 1,795 1,539 256 -700 0 1 8 26
10 3 Justin Haers 1,738 1,480 258 -757 0 2 14 25
11 14J Alan Johnson 1,689 1,401 288 -806 3 6 12 22
12 49 Billy Dunn 1,599 1,347 252 -896 0 0 3 26
13 27J Danny Johnson 1,588 1,448 140 -907 1 5 7 26
14 99L Larry Wight® 1,242 1,020 222 -1,253 0 0 1 23
15 6 Pat O’Brien 1,049 765 284 -1,446 0 0 2 17
16 29 Jeff Brownell Jr.984 754 230 -1,511 0 0 1 16
17 19 Tim Fuller 694 644 50 -1,801 0 4 4 7
18 42B Kevin Bates 691 439 252 -1,804 0 0 0 12
19 79 Mike Storms® 679 425 254 -1,816 0 1 2 8
20 56 Vince Vitale 659 417 242 -1,836 0 0 1 8
21 99B Chuck Bower 610 364 246 -1,885 0 0 0 11
22 88 Steve Hulsizer 589 347 242 -1,906 0 0 0 7
23 4 Andy Bachetti 587 299 288 -1,908 1 1 1 3
24 32C Vic Coffey 559 393 166 -1,936 0 1 2 7
25 74 J.R. Heffner 535 271 264 -1,960 0 1 2 2
Headquartered in Roanoke, Va., Advance Auto Parts, a leading automotive aftermarket retailer of parts, accessories, batteries, and maintenance items in the United States, serves both the do-it-yourself and professional installer markets As of April 19, 2008, the Company operated 3,291 stores in 40 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Additional information about the Company, employment opportunities, customer services, and on-line shopping for parts and accessories can be found on the Company’s web site at www.advanceautoparts.com.
The Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series for Big-Block Modifieds is brought to fans across the Northeast by several sponsors and partners, including series sponsors Advance Auto Parts, Hoosier Racing Tire and Sunoco Race Fuels. Promotional partners include AMB i.t., Rite Aid Corporation and the University of Northwestern Ohio and the contingency sponsors are Bert Transmission, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Crane Cams, Integra Shocks, MSD Ignitions, Motorsports Safety Systems, Penske Shocks and Wrisco Industries.